THE TRUTH ABOUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD
“Planned Parenthood” is a worldwide, mega-organization which is known for its advocacy for abortion. It claims that, for ninety years, it has worked to improve women's health and safety. It is involved, not only in America but, also, in the Third World and it pressures governments to change the social, legal and political barriers which obstruct access to abortion. It also provides information for under-age women in America who may have the legal right to an abortion without having their parent's consent to undergo the procedure.Planned Parenthood is hailed by many feminists to be a liberating and empowering organization which defends the rights of women, worldwide.
While Planned Parenthood is applauded by many in the media and society, the roots of this organization are rarely spoken of. This is because history reveals a shocking and offensive basis, not only for Planned Parenthood but, also, for the abortion movement. To understand the foundation of Planned Parenthood and the abortion movement, one needs to understand the development of eugenics philosophy as it developed in America in the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
What is eugenics? The word “eugenics” was first coined in 1883 by the British scientist, Francis Galton. Galton used the word “eugenics” to convey social uses by which information on a person's heredity could be used for selective breeding. Eugenics represented the idea of the social selection of “fit” persons within society and the removal of “unfit” persons. Fit persons were those deemed strong, healthy and independent, whereas, unfit persons were those who, in some way, were dependent on the society, social order and family to which they belonged. Eugenics presupposed that fitness and unfitness was largely determined by heredity and that positive changes in humanity could be obtained by selective breeding. Before the word “eugenics” was used in 1883, the idea had already been hashed around and developed by philosophers for a long time. In 1798, the English writer, Thomas Malthus, theorized that the finite world food supply would not be enough to support the expanding human population worldwide and that population control was needed to address this deficiency. He also spoke out against charity for the poor. In 1850, Herbert Spencer taught that man and society followed the rules of cold science and not that of a caring God. He was the first to coin the phrase “survival of the fittest.” This would become a much-used phrase in years to come, especially in evolutionary circles. Spencer taught that the fittest would perfect society and the unfit would become more impoverished, less educated and die off.1
The publishing of Charles Darwin's book, “The Origin Of Species,” in 1859, added tremendous fuel to the developing philosophy, not yet named, of eugenics. Darwin's theory was built on the concept of the survival of the fittest and, after him, a flurry of philosophers began writing on the topic of the biological breeding of the strong people in society and of allowing the weak people to perish. By the time Galton coined the word “eugenics” in 1883, the concept was already highly developed and popular. As things digressed, the concept of “unfit” was expanded to include races of people, not just the poor. Between 1890 and 1920, 18 million refugees migrated to the United States. Rather than blending into a melting pot of culture and diversity, most retained their distinctive differences and there was little integration. The mainstream culture had little patience for those who would not, or could not, integrate and racism in America skyrocketed. All of these developments influenced the philosophy of eugenics during this time. Many social activists began voicing their belief that some people and some people-groups were superior to other people and other people-groups. It was not long before such opinions were being spread, not only by social activists but, by elite philosophers, educators and politicians.
When discussing the spread of eugenics by activists, philosophers, educators and politicians, it would be hard to overstate the extent to which they popularized the philosophy of eugenics in America during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nancy Leys Stepan has said; “In fact, one of the puzzles about eugenics is that, far from viewing it as a bizarre notion of extremists at the fringes of respectable science, and social reform, many well-placed scientists, medical doctors, and social activists endorsed it as an appropriate outcome of developments in the science of human heredity.” 2 These same well-placed scientists, medical doctors and social activists were instrumental in mainstreaming eugenics as the science of their day. In fact, eugenics had become so much a part of health reform by the 1920s that anyone daring to criticize it was mocked. Edwin Black has said; “Racism, group hatred, xenophobia and enmity towards one's neighbours have existed in almost every culture throughout history. But it took millenia for these deeply personal, almost tribal hostilities to migrate into the safe harbour of scientific thought, and thus rationalizing destructive actions against the despised or unwanted.”3 This safe harbour of scientific thought was really a cloak for prejudice, selfishness and racism.
While eugenics was finding a safe harbour among universities in America, it was also making inroads into the political arena. For example, on January 29 of 1907, the Indiana representative, Horace Reed, introduced a bill which was later passed. This eugenics bill enacted law that permitted the sterilization of poor-house residents, the mentally impaired and prisoners. The State of Washington also adopted the sterilization of habitual criminals, as did California and Nevada, of convicts. Connecticut sterilized mental asylum residents. Iowa sterilized those it considered “criminals, idiots, feeble-minded, imbeciles, drunkards, drug fiends, epileptics, ... moral or sexual perverts,” whom they had in custody. 4 In 1911, the State of New Jersey passed legislation which created a “Board of Examiners of Feebleminded, Epileptics and Other Defectives.” 5 The term “other defectives” was ambiguous and open to interpretation. The Board was also to identify prisoners and children residing in poor-houses, as well as charitable institutions, of whom “procreation is inadvisable.” 6 Decisions were made in a formal hearing where persons being considered defective were given a court-appointed attorney but denied a family-hired or personally-selected attorney. New Jersey's governor, Woodrow Wilson, signed the bill into law on April 21, 1911. In 1912, the State of New York practically duplicated the New Jersey legislation for its own state. It would shock many readers that in the United States thousands of people were sterilized involuntarily. Statistics vary on the exact numbers. The most conservative figures begin at 60,000, though the highest numbers are estimated at up to 180,000 sterilizations.
If eugenics flourished in America during the 19th and 20th centuries, how does this relate to Planned Parenthood? Planned Parenthood and the abortion movement relate to eugenics due to the involvement of Margaret Sanger. Who was Margaret Sanger? Sanger was a nurse in New York City who encountered many women caught in the difficult situation of having unwanted pregnancies. New York City had large slum districts where many Americans suffered from poverty and poor health care. Among the suffering were single, pregnant women. Sanger became more than a nurse; she became a social activist who traveled the country, zealously advocating birth control and the legalization of abortion. She was a nurse, a social activist, a feminist and the producer of a couple of periodicals, “The Woman Rebel” and “The Birth Control Review.” Sanger had a shady past, being indicted for violating the United States postal obscenity laws in 1914 and, also, for jumping bail and hiding in England under a false name. She also served time in jail for running an illegal birth control clinic in NewYork in 1916. She was the founder of “The American Birth Control League” which later became “Planned Parenthood.”
Sanger was more than the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a self-confessed eugenicist. In fact, she represents one of the most extreme eugenicists of her day. She vigorously opposed charitable efforts to help the poor and argued passionately that it was better to do less to help them so that the superior strains of humanity could progress without competition from the unfit. She would refer to those in the lowest income class as being “human waste.” She argued, more than once, that human “weeds” should be “exterminated.” 7 To Sanger, birth control was a form of eugenics. She said; “Birth control, which has been criticized as negative and destructive, is really the greatest and most truly eugenic method, and its adoption as part of the program of eugenics would immediately give a concrete and realistic power to that science. As a matter of fact, Birth Control has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the eugenicists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the means to racial health.” 8 In her book, “Pivot of Civilization,” Sanger devotes a chapter to criticizing charity, in which she says; “Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty. It is a deliberate storing up of miseries for future generations. There is no greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing population of imbeciles.” 9 Sanger praised the work of the infamous, secular humanist, Ernst Huxley, who attacked The Salvation Army for their vigorous assistance to the poor in England and around the world. She referred to it as “ ... his penetrating and stimulating condemnation of the debauch of sentimentalism ...” 10 She also said in further opposition to humanitarianism and assistance to the poor; “These dangers inherent in the very idea of humanitarianism and altruism dangers which have to-day produced their full harvest of human waste, of inequality and inefficiency ...” 11 Sanger believed that it was dangerous for society to promote the unfit because this caused an imbalance in society. Her proposed solution was the mass sterilization of those deemed defective. She said:
The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feebleminded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous. Segregation carried out for one or two generations would give us only partial control of the problem. Moreover, when we realize that each feebleminded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded. 12
Sanger also declared that it was her aim to see the sterilization of those with inherited or transmittable diseases.
When reading Sanger's writings, the interpretation that many people make is that Sanger's call to eugenics was aimed at the mentally and physically handicapped, as well as the poor. By referring to people with words, such as, “the feebleminded,” “immoral,” “imbeciles,” and “morons,” Sanger and other eugenicists were speaking of the handicapped. However, a closer reading of Sanger's writings reveals that her target-group was larger than just the handicapped. Black civil rights activists point out that these same words were applied to Blacks by society as far back as the days of slavery. Some of them see Sanger as including them in her scope of the feebleminded. There were certainly other geneticists who did use the term “feeblemindedness” as a carefully chosen code word to include Blacks. For example, C. B. Davenport wrote; “The problem of the socially fit must be treated not as one of color but as a problem of the spread of feeblemindedness. ...” 13 What becomes clear is that Sanger's grouping of the feebleminded was much larger than those that we would consider mentally handicapped today. How many Americans did Sanger consider to be feebleminded? Shockingly, Sanger parroted the research of U.S. Army intelligence, which claimed that as many as 70% of Americans were feebleminded. When asked what percentage of America's population was deficient, she said; “... 70% below 15 year intellect ... .” 14 She also built her case for large numbers of delinquents within America's population by referring to a study concerning the military population, cited in an article by John C. Duvall which claimed that expert army investigators had found that 70% of the army had a mental capacity below 14 years of age. 15
Sanger's quotes became more and more inflammatory. She spoke out against large families and in her feminist book, “Woman and the New Race,” she boldly declared; “Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”16
Sanger associated herself with some of America's most extreme eugenics racists. She dared to surround herself with eugenicists who were out-spoken racists and white supremacists. One of the most inflammatory of these individuals was Lothrop Stoddard who wrote the book, “The Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy.” 17 After the publication of Stoddard's book, Sanger invited him to join the board of directors of her American Birth Control League. Stoddard visited Nazi Germany where he observed the sterilization program of Hitler's regime. He said that the eugenics legislation of the Nazis was purifying the Germanic stock in a humanitarian and scientific way by weeding out the worst in German society. He also taught that German-Jewish social problems would be solved by removing Jews from the third reich. 18 , 19 From this, we see Lothrop Stoddard and the American Birth Control League's undeniable connection with racism. Another racist who worked for both Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler was Eugen Fischer. Fischer was a German eugenicist whom Hitler appointed to be the directer of the Frederick William University of Berlin. He conducted studies on the racial origins of people-groups and conducted experiments on gypsies and African Germans. Sanger honored him by inviting him to be a speaker at one of her conventions. Sanger's early publication, “The Birth Control Review,” sometimes quoted the opinions of racists. For example, in 1932, it contained an article by Walter Terpening which said:
... As among whites, there are cases of degenerate Negroes whose propagation will be checked only by sterilization or institutionalization, but the practice of birth control among the majority of colored people would probably be more eugenic than among their white compatriots The dissemination of the information of birth control should have begun with this class rather than with the upper social and economic classes of white citizens. 20
In the same year, Sanger printed an article by Newell L. Sims which said; “In virtually every community where Negroes dwell one finds them in fat times and lean alike contributing a disproportionate number to the roles of the dependants and delinquents They make excessive demands on the white man's charity and overtax his patience with their delinquencies.” 21 Another outspoken eugenicist and colleague of Sanger was Yale professor, Irving Fisher. In addressing the Second National Congress on Race Betterment, he said; “Gentlemen and ladies, you have not any idea unless you have studied this subject mathematically, how rapidly we could exterminate this contamination if we really got at it, or how rapidly the contamination goes on if we do not get at it.” 22 Fisher served on Sanger's committee on the First American Birth Control Conference and lectured for her repeatedly at birth control events. Another racist eugenicist who worked for Sanger was Henry Pratt Fairchild. In his book, “The Melting Pot Mistake,” he argued against immigration. He spoke repeatedly at Sanger's conferences, such as the 1925 Sixth International Neo-Malthusian and Birth Control Conference and the 1927 World Population Conference. In 1929, he was given the position of vice-president of Sanger's National Committee for Federal Legislation on Birth Control, her central lobbying group, and he became vice-president of her Birth Control Federation of America.
By welcoming high-profile racists into key leadership and spokesman positions in her organizations, Sanger was revealing the true colors of her abortion movement. She continued to make more and more inflammatory statements. Honoured at a luncheon at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York, in her speech to the crowd, she said:
'Let us not forget,' she urged, 'that these billions, millions, thousands of people are increasing, expanding, exploding at a terrific rate every year. Africa, Asia, South America are made up of more than a billion human beings, miserable, poor, illiterate labor slaves, whether they are called that or not; a billion hungry men and women always in the famine zone yet reproducing themselves in the blind struggle for survival and perpetuation. ...' 23
Sanger referred to eugenics issues as being “biological or racial problems” in the following quote from her book, Pivot of Civilization:
Let us first of all consider merely from the viewpoint of business and efficiency the biological or racial problems which confront us As Americans we have of late made much of 'efficiency and business organization Yet would any corporation for one moment conduct its affairs as we conduct the infinitely more important affairs of our civilization? Would any modern stock breeder permit the deterioration of his livestock as we not only permit but positively encourage the destruction and the deterioration of our most precious, the most essential elements in our world community – the mothers and children With the mothers and children thus cheapened, the next generation of men and women is inevitably below par The tendency of the human elements, under present conditions is constantly downward 24
So, in Sanger's mind, the deterioration and cheapening of mothers and children is one of the “biological or racial problems” where the most essential elements of society are not bred correctly.
Sanger used her Planned Parenthood Federation to promote her philosophy of eugenics. On October 25, 1950, she addressed the Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Planned Parenthood Federation. A transcript of her speech was distributed to the worldwide press and a pamphlet was also distributed, titled, “Books on Planned Parenthood.” The books were divided into topics with one topic being titled “Eugenics.” These books contained common eugenics rhetoric from the 1930s, such as, “selective sterilization” and “the goal of eugenics.” Under the Planned Parenthood Federation letterhead, Sanger wrote a letter stating; “I appreciate that there is a difference of opinion as what a Planned Parenthood Federation should want or aim to do, but I do not see how we could leave out of its aims some of the eugenic principles that are basically sound in constructing a decent civilization.” 25
In 1926, Sanger spoke at a women's auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. She was later invited by twelve other Klan Chapters to speak. She even tried to get Christian ministers to advance her cause and in a letter to Clarence Gamble, she wrote; “The minister's work is also important and also he should be trained perhaps by the federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” 26 This shows how Sanger tried to conceal her plan from the general public.
Once abortion was legalized in the United States, Sanger's organization began setting up abortion clinics, concentrating them in minority neighborhoods. By making abortion more accessible to Black and other minorities, Blacks began having abortions in an improportionate rate. This was not coincidental. It was organized to be this way. This did not escape the notice of Black civil rights activists. Some of the early pro-life advocates were the Black Panther Party, the Black Unity Party and individuals such as Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson said; “Abortion is genocide.” 27 Black America's civil rights newspapers, such as, “Mohammed Speaks” and “Ebony” also wrote against birth control. Black civil rights activists saw a strong link between abortion, Planned Parenthood and Black genocide. Abortion today is the leading cause of death among Blacks in America. Since 1973, more Black Americans have died by being aborted than have died from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and violent crime, combined. Planned Parenthood has even accepted donations which individuals have made for the express purpose of having “Black” fetuses aborted. This was admitted by Planned Parenthood's national president, Fay Waddleton, in 1986, when she said on video; “We have received contributions from people who want to support us because they want all welfare mothers and all Black women to stop having children.” 28
Planned Parenthood has never disavowed Margaret Sanger but, instead, gives out a “Margaret Sanger Award” each year as the highest honor their organization can bestow. It has been received by individuals such as Jane Fonda, Ted Turner and Hillary Clinton. 29
While many have hailed Planned Parenthood as a liberating and empowering organization which defends the rights of women, other conscientious individuals have looked below the crust of this organization and expressed concern over its connections with eugenics and Black genocide. Just as abortionists today consider that some unborn children are unfit for the privilege of life outside the womb so, too, eugenicists and social Darwinists, of the past and present, have labelled the struggling people of society as unfit. They have been labelled feebleminded, imbeciles, morons and degenerates. Black America is sensitive to these terms because of how they have wrongly been applied to them in the past. Yet, such language flowed from the pen of feminist, abortionist, eugenicist and racist Margaret Sanger. Her legal, and illegal, activism was instrumental in shaping the thoughts of many abortionists today. If her audience had only been the Ku Klux Klan then, perhaps, her ideas would not have spread as far. However, her audience has been a broad range of humanity all the way from intellectuals to educators, to common men and women wrestling with the issue of unwanted pregnancy. Sanger did not rise to her place of influence all on her own. Working together with eugenicists, and even Nazi collaborators, she advanced the cause of birth control. When abortion was legalized, Sanger obtained the legal right to move from being an advocate of abortion to being a provider of abortion. Black and minority neighborhoods were targeted and abundantly supplied with abortion facilities. However, the “human waste” that Sanger wished done away with was really human life. Powerful civil rights and activist organizations failed to overturn her achievements and, sadly, abortion is the number one cause of death of Blacks in America today. No one has honored Margaret Sanger more than her organization, Planned Parenthood, which continues to give out awards in her name. Many conscientious individuals from both the Black and the White community continue to cry out against the atrocities which are just below the crust of Planned Parenthood's name.
Herbert Spencer, quoted in Edwin Black, War Against The Weak (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 12.
Nancy Leys Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics (London: Cornell University Press, 1991), 5.
Edwin Black, War Against The Weak (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 9.
Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization (New York: Brentano's 1922), 109, 112, 116. Also, “Is Race Suicide Probable?” (Collier's, Aug. 15, 1925, p. 25).
Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, 189.
C. B. Davenport, quoted in Maafa 21, Videocassette.
M. Sanger, Letter quoted in Edwin Black, War Against The Weak (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 132.
John C. Duvall, “The Purpose of Eugenics” printed in Birth Control Review, Dec. 1924, page 344 : California State Archives.
M. Sanger, Women and the New Race (New York: Brentano's, 1920, Chapter 5).
Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926), 259-260.
Lothrop Stoddard, quoted in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lothrop_Stoddard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_Creative_Commons_Attribution-ShareAlike_3.0_Unported_License ; Jonathan P. Spiro (2009), Defending the Master Race : Conservation, Eugenics, and The Legacy of Madison Grant (Vermont: University of Vermont Press), 61.
Walter Terpening, quoted in Birth Control Review, 1932. Quoted in Maafa 21.
Newell L.Sims, Birth Control Review, 1932. Quoted in Maafa 21.
Irving Fisher, quoted in Eugenics Research Association, Officers and Committee List of the Eugenics Research Association - January 1927 (Cold Spring Harbour, NY: Eugenics Research Association, 1927): Truman, ERA Membership Records. Professor Irving Fisher, “A Reply,” Official Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Race Betterment (Battle Creek, MI.: The Race Betterment Foundation, 1915).
Margaret Sanger, “Address” quoted in, Edwin Black, War Against The Weak, 143.
Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, 262-263.
Margaret Sanger, letter to Dr. C. P. Blacker, 5 May 1953: Welcome Institute Box 112.
Margaret Sanger, in Letter to Clarence Gamble. Quoted in Maafa 21.
Jesse Jackson, quoted in Maafa 21.
Faye Waddleton, quoted in Maafa 21.
Birth Control Review, Dec. 1924: California State Archives.
Birth Control Review, 1932.
Black, Edwin. War Against The Weak. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003.
Collier's, Aug. 15, 1925.
Eugenics Research Association. Officers and Committee List of the Eugenics Research Association - January 1927. Cold Spring Harbour, NY: Eugenics Research Association, 1927.
Leys Stepan, Nancy. The Hour of Eugenics. London: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Maafa 21. Videocassette. Life Dynamics, Inc., P.O. Box 2226, Denton Texas 76202.
Sanger, Margaret. Letter to Dr. C. P. Blacker, 5 May 1953: Welcome Institute Box 112.
Sanger, Margaret. Pivot of Civilization. New York: Brentano's, 1922.
Sanger, Margaret. Women and the New Race. New York: Brentano's, 1920.
Spiro, Jonathan P. (2009), Defending the Master Race : Conservation, Eugenics, and The Legacy of Madison Grant. Vermont: University of Vermont Press.
Stoddard, Lothrop. The Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926.
Truman, ERA Membership Records. Professor Irving Fisher, “A Reply.” Official Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Race Betterment. Battle Creek, MI.: The Race Betterment Foundation, 1915.